Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lubavitch I

Well, the main problems with Lubavitch are the Rebbe is Moshiach thing, and the Rebbe is Still Alive thing, but these are like symptoms. Ultimately the problem is theological misbeliefs that spawned these aberrations of our religion, which have no basis in either Chasidic or any other school of Torah thought.

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Contemporary Chabad, definitely has problems. The last Rebbe, the Meshiach stuff, the strange teachings – they believe them all. Classic Chabad - the teachings of the Alter Rebbe, the Tanya, the classic Chabad Minhagim, those are all holy.

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There are several factions in Lubavitch - they call them Meshichisten, Elohisten (I’m not kidding), and antis. And within each group the beliefs are so convoluted and confused that they’re rarely sure of what they themselves hold. But if someone believes that the Rebbe is Hashem in a body or that he is doing Mitzvos because the Rebbe said to do them, or various other idolatrous beliefs that are found among the Lubavitcher, then for sure they are idol worshipers. Gedolei Haposkim have already said this. But even non-idolatrous beliefs can still be simply stupid or against the Torah, or both. Just because someone is NOT an idol worshiper does not mean that his beliefs are in accordance with the Torah.

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There are two levels of problems:

(a) Things that are wrong according to the Torah but do not contradict the 13 Principles

(b) Things that do contradict the 13 principles

If you believe something that is against the 13 principles, then - there is a great dispute about this, but we are following this halachic approach now since we are explaining these poskim, and this is the majority opinion, which they are following - even if you mistakenly believe that the Torah agrees with you, you are an apikores.

In other words, let's say you think Hashem has eyes, since it says in the Torah "ainei Hashem", that, according to the Rambam and those that we are following in this discussion, makes you an apikores. As Rav Chaim Brisker said, "nebach an apikores is oich an apikores." Rabbi Fedlman actually quotes that Rav Chaim in his letter and adds that Rav Moshe Feinstein (OH:4:91:6) concurs. He is clearly following that approach.

Therefore, if you are an Elohist, and you believe that a Rebbe is the manifestation of G-d in a body, as they do, then you are violating the basic concept of G-d as delineated by the Rambam's 13 Ikarim, and therefore, you are a kofer b'ikar.

Meaning, basically, you are kicked out of Klall Yisroel. No mitzvah to love you, no mitzvah to return your lost items, no eating from your shechitah, etc.

However, if you believe in something against the Torah which is NOT one of the 13 principles, for instance, let’s say a person believes that Moshe Rabbeinu was the son of Avrohom Avinu. In such a case, if you are purposely disagreeing with the Torah, meaning, you acknowledge that the Torah says he wasn’t but you say it is wrong and you are right, then you are an Apikores as well, BUT if you are an idiot, and so don’t know how to learn that you actually think that the Torah says that Moshe was Avrohom's son, then you are an idiot, but not an apikores.

You are wrong, you are surely not qualified to be a rabbi, you’re really messed up, but you’re still part of Klall Yisroel.

That, Rabbi Feldman holds, is the difference between the Elohistin and the Meshichistin. The Meshichistin are messed up, have no idea what Torah values are, cannot be rabbis or have any kind of position in the Jewish community, but they are still part of Klall Yisroel, since their belief, as insane as it is and as wrong a it is, and as many things in the Torah that it contradicts, still does not contradict those 13 Principles. And since they believe the Torah does say it, they are not kicked out of Klall Yisroel for being meshichistin.

But the Elohistin are kicked out, even though they think they are following the Torah.

As far as the definition of a Lubavitcher Chosid, you are theoretically right, but for the fact that Boruch Hashem many Lubavitchers are not familiar with these teachings of their Rebbe, or if they are, aren’t educated enough to understand what he means.

For instance, people from Lubavitch families are often shocked at the things I quoted here from the LP, and conclude that he must not have meant them as they were said, that he was exaggerating, etc etc.

In the Lubavitch discussions on the forum, you’ll find that Lubavitchers have tried to answer the criticism of the Lubavitcher Rebbe saying that a Rebbe is atzmuso umahuso alein, areingeshtelt in a guf (c"v) by claiming that all he was referring to was the Jewish Neshama, which is a chelek elokah mi'maal, which, in a Rebbe, is in its purest form etc etc and I know many Lubavithcers, rabbis even, who make the same interpretation.

But it won’t work. For many reasons, that’s not what the Lubavitcher Rebbe said. The easiest is that the LR claims the same thing - that you become "the essence of G-d in a body" refers to an angel in certain circumstance’s and an angel has NO NESHAMA at all, certainly not a chelek elokah mimaal.

Most Lubavitchers don't really know much about Moshiach, or what the Torah has to say about a lot of things. And because they have learned Tanya and things like that without anything close to the proper background to understand it right, they are so confused and convoluted that they themselves have no idea of what they hold. Nothing is consistent or thought out. That’s why there are so many fights now in Chabad - the antis, the meshichistin, the elohistin - which even led to physical attacks on rabbis from opposing factions, never mind the insanity that is bred there more and more as time goes on.

Therefore, if you have a Lubavitcher Chosid who believes that a Rebbe is G-d in a body because his Rebbe said so, then that chosid is an idol worshiper; if you have someone who says no the rebbe never meant that or if he has no idea that the rebbe said that, then boruch Hashem he is not learned enough to understand such things.

As far as how we know that any given Lubavitcher is from which faction, Rabbi Feldman writes in the letter (please read it) that he believes that the majority of Lubavitcher are not from those Elohisten, and therefore you can rely on the odds if you don’t know.

Rabbi Feldman, of course, does not say that with certainty - how can he know the numbers? - but rather, as he writes, "from what it seems, this is the case..." Meaning, if you believe that the odds are not in favor of your particular Lubavitch shochet being one of those who are still in Klall yisroel, then indeed you may not eat from their shechita.

For instance, in Tzefas, I would imagine, even Rabbi Feldman would agree not to eat their shechitah.

The odds changes from time to time and place to place; let's hope they do teshuva and it changes more and more for the better, in more and more places.

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If there are let's say 10 people davening and one is an elohist, you have no minyan, whether you know it or not. All your brochos are l'vatoloh etc. though you did not do it on purpose.

Also important to note is that even if one will say that most lubavitchers are only messed up and against the torah but still in klall yisroel, still, in a case such as yours the odds may change.

This is because if let's say for the sake of the argument that randomly, 4 out of 10 lubavithcers are kofrim, then if you are determining if one individual is a kofer, you have the odds that say he is not. However, if you have 10 people for a minyan, then if even one out of every 10 lubavitchers is a kofer, the odds are, you have at least one kofer in your minyan which invalidates it.

Besides that, it is not advisable to rely on a rov (rov means "majority" here, not "rabbi") such as this if you can avoid it, for many reasons, not the least of which if the rov happens to be wrong, and you happen to eat from the shechitah of a kofer, you're still eating trief, even though you were allowed to take the risk. (This is not bitul b'rov; this is kol d'porush, a different type of rov, which works differently.)

So if you have a suspicion that your shechita may have been done by a kofer, even if the odds say you may risk it, it is not advisable to do so if you have a normal shechita that you can use instead.

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The elohistin may be a minority, but they are still accepted in Lubavitch as legitimate members of anash, evebn if others think they have gone too far. These apikorsim should be treated with at least the same amount of derision as Shmuly Boteach is given in Chabad, whose crimes, though many, are a lot less than Apikorsus. The fact that Chabad does not openly rail against these apikorism is a crime. Imagine if there were Jews for Jesus in Chabad, considered legitimate members of Anash, treated normally. The entire Kehilla would be considered messed up. Well, these Elohistin mean just that: There are Jews for Jesus in Chabad or more accurately, the Halachic equivalent. And therefore the entire Chabad is looked at by everyone outside as if they were a Kehilla that accepts Jews for Jesus as members within them.

And the Meshichistin, although I do not have statistics - and neither does anyone - are clearly in control of a great segment of Chabad all over the world, including 770. I am sure you know there are still signs about the Rebbe shlita hanging prominently therein.

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The opponents of Lubavitch under discussion are not Misnagdim at all - they are just opposed to Lubavitch, and they include Chasidim as well as Misnagdim. In Lubavitch, they refer to anyone who opposes Lubavitch as a "misnagid", because they like to think that the opposition to Lubavitch is opposition to Chasidus and Chasidim.

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Those old-time Chasidim are not the ones we are talking about now. They did not worship a deceased Rebbe, they did not say their Rebbe was Melech HaMoshiach, they did not denigrate Gedolei Yisroel, their Rebbe did not claim that he - or any other human being - was "G-d clothed in a body".

Chabad used to be a great Chasidus - nobody questions that - and that makes what it has turned into today an even greater tragedy.

Drinking cholov yisroel and wearing a beard - which incidentally are characteristic of other chasidim, not just chabad, does not compensate for or reduce the severity of the heretical beliefs or anti-Torah actions that we are discussing.

There were no "Gedolim" who did not appreciate Mesiras Nefesh, for Mitzvos nor did any "fall".

The Vilna Gaon's "grandchildren" are not all Chasidim - some are, some aren't, and some, unfortunately, are not even religious. A profile similar to the descendents of most any given individual 200 years ago. Or have you forgotten about people like Barry Gourari, a descendant of ... who?

Chasidus does not say that we should turn our backs to wrong-doing, or to ignore those who distort the Torah. That is a common folk-version of Chasidus, that has no basis in reality.

Here is what Chasidus really says about this topic:

The following is from the Magid of Mezritch, the Rebbe Reb Ber ZT"L, main student, successor, and teacher of the Derech of the Baal Shem Tov:

"Those who abandon Torah praise the Rasha; but those who keep the Mitzvos will fight against them" (Mishle 28:4).

"We should ask, why does the posuk use such phrases as "abandoners of Torah" and "doers of mitzvos". Why doesn’t the posuk say simply "Reshaim praise the Rasha, but Tzadikim will fight against them?"

"Also, why does the posuk first use the singular ("will praise the Rasha") and then change to the plural ("will fight them")?

"The answer is, that the "abandoners of Torah" in this verse are not Reshayim, but Tzadikim! But there are two types of Tzadikim: There are Tzadikim who do Mitzvos, but they do not rebuke the sinners, and even though there is a Mitzvah in the Torah to rebuke wrongdoers (hocheach tocheach), but because these Tzadikim have "soft dispositions and good personalities", they are unable to declare to someone "You are doing wrong!"

"And there are Tzadikim, on the other hand, who stand guard and constantly fight with those who do wrong. They admonish them and censure them constantly regarding their disgusting acts, as it says "And against those who rise up against You, I shall rise up against" (Tehilim 139:21).

"The second group of Tzadikim are very disliked, since people see the first group of Tzadikim who are total Tzadikim and are silent, they hold that probably those who the second group is fighting with aren't really as bad as they say. Because of this, the second group of Tzadikim attack the first group of Tzadikim demanding to know why they too do not rebuke and fight against the wrong doers. "You are Tzadikim," they cry. "So why don’t you fight?"

"But the first group of Tzadikim do not think they did anything wrong. They do not see guilt in the Reshaim because of their dispositions, and they say "Well, maybe they're not really so bad as people say," or they have some other Limud Zechus, or they mention some good Midos that the evil doers have etc.

"This is what the Posuk means: "Those who abandon Torah" - i.e. The soft Tzadikim, who refuse to see the evil in the evil doers, they are the "abandoners of Torah", for even though they are Tzadikim, the Posuk calls them abandoners of Torah, since they refuse to see the evil in the evil doers.

"The second group, on the other hand, are called "Keepers of the Mitzvos", and when it says "the keepers of the Mitzvos fight against them" it does not mean against the Rasha, but rather against the other group of Tzadikim who are too soft."

End quote.

This fundamental Torah Hashkafa, said by the Magid of Mezritch, is brought down - guess where? - in the Ohr HaEmes of the Barditchever Rebbe, Rav Levi Yitzchok ZT"L, auhtor of Kedushas Levi.

This was the Barditchever Rebbe's true Hashkofo.

Rav Yaakov Teitelbaum ZTL was a rabbi in Queens, NY. He was a student of the great Rav Meir Arik ZT"L. In his sefer Kol Yaakov (p.100) he relates a story where Rav Meir Arik was told that taking an unpopular stand and telling the truth about wrongdoers was not the Derech of the Baal Shem Tov. Rather, the Derech of the Baal Shem Tov was to be Mekarev people, not to rebuke them.

"Immediately my Rav [Meir Arik] responded, 'I am confident that the Magid of Mezritch, the Rebbe Reb Ber ZT"L knew well the Derech of the Baal Shem Tov....' And he proceeded to tell over the above vort of the Magid, brought to us by none other than the Barditchever Rebbe.

Rav Meir Arik ZT"L concluded, "Anyone, after they hear this quote of the Barditchever Rebbe ZT"L who [believes as you do] and claims it is the Derech of the Baal Shem Tov, is fully aware that he is counterfeiting the Derech of the Baal Shem Tov and using a fake Ahavas Yisroel."

Rabbi Teitelbaum adds: "And this is awesome Mussar for our generation, for often we hear at all types of gatherings statements in the name of the Barditchever Rebbe ZT"L to be melamed zechus on Poshei Yisroel (except, of course, those who are religious, as we all understand!). However, after we see what he brings in the name of the Rebbe Reb Ber, it is clear to all that [the quotes] are based on lies!".

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#1) Nobody is treating Chabad Chasidus in any way whatsoever. The discussion is certain Chasidim. It has been mentioned many times that these Lubavitchers are not following the Tanya or Chabad Chasidus at all, despite their insistence to the contrary. Please do not put words in the mouths of others.

#2) If there were Skvere Chasidim who would be telling the world that it is a Mitzvah to launder money, we should all tell people that they are liars. And if they said that Skverere Chasidus says so, we should tell people that they are even bigger liars. Therefore, by explaining that today's Meshichistim are NOT following the Torah or Chabad Chasidus we are defending the honor of the Torah and Chabad.

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First, the Gedolim did not merely object to some segments of Lubavitch, but all of Lubavitch in general, during this generation when the last Rebbe was in charge.

Second, it is a mistake that "most poskim" agree that no sin could have caused the holocaust. If Lubavitch holds like that, that's one thing, but please do not make their opinion into "most poskim".


None of this is sinas chinam. Of course we are one nation, but all that means is that even if you make up lies and believe anti-Torah beliefs you're still Jewish (Note: Apikorsim are an exception to this in many ways). It still remains a Torah obligation to teach people what is right and what is wrong. Telling people that what is happening in Lubavitch - or anywhere else - is wrong is NOT sinas chinam, since it is not done for personal hatred but rather to clarify right and wrong.

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The story about Rav Shach's tefillin being found posul c"v is a fabrication. No such thing ever happened.

The story about a "personal vendetta" is also a fabrication. No such personal vendetta exists, nor do the tellers of this story have any reason to offer as to why he would have such a vendetta.

Furthermore, I don't know anything about Rav Shach saying the holocaust came because of sins, but I do know that the Chofetz Chaim ZT"L and Rav Meir Simcha ZT"L of Dvinsk predicted the holocaust because of Jewish sins, the Satmar Rav ZT"L and others have said clearly that the holocaust came due to sins, and not only that, but throughout history after every Jewish tragedy, our leaders have sought to find the sins behind the punishment. That includes everything from the destruction of the Bais HaMikdosh (Gemora - sinas chinam) to the Inquisition (Chosid Yaavetz - philosophy), to World War I (non-kosher food and assorted other sins - Achiezer). Saying that such a statement is "false" is simply baseless and against thousands of years of Mesorah, never mind beyond your authority to make.

Another thing: Dismissing Rav Shach will not reduce the level of opposition that our Torah authorities have had for today's Lubavitch. The Brisker Rav ZTL, Rav Aharon Kotler ZT"L, the Satmar Rav ZT"L, and Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz ZT"L are just a few on the list of Torah authorities that were just as vehemently against what Lubavitch has evolved into today as Rav Shach is.

If you want to say the whole world is wrong and you are right, that is one thing. But to deny the existence of the opposition of to attribute fictitious "personal vendettas" to Gedolei Yisroel, and to fabricate fairy tales about Tefillin being found posul merely shows the world that you are in la la land, and supports your opponents who say that you don’t know what you are talking about.

There are, and have been, numerous Torah leaders who believed that the majority of Orthodox Jews were wrong, including the Talmidei Chachamim among them. That is completely legitimate in theory. The Minchas Elozor, the Minkatcher Rebbe ZT"L, was among those who held like that. No problem. But he said clearly "This is what I believe, this is why, and those who oppose it are wrong for this and this reason". Satmar is like that too.

But to teach people that really everyone agrees with you except for a few with personal vendettas and unkosher tefillin just means that you cannot defend your position without making up slanderous lies about your opponents, who just happen to be Tzadikim. And they had good reason to say what they said. If you would like to understand it, just ask. If you would like to respond to it, be my guest, but if the only response you have is to make up stories then you've proven the other person right.

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Rav Shach was definitely against the Lubavitcher Rebbe, as were the other Gedolim mentioned. What I said was, their ire was not directed at Chasidus in general, or even Chabad Chasidus, but rather contemporary Lubavitch Chasidus, which, Rav Shach wrote, is not really Chasidus at all, nor is it Chabad Chasidus. Rather, Lubavitch slowly evolved into something completely not in line with Chabad Chasidus at all. As far as disrespect, its only disrespectful if it isn’t true, but if Rav Shach - and again, he is NOT unique in this, he is merely following the Torah leaders like Rav Aharon Kotler the Brisker Rav ZTL and others - has Torah reasons to hold like that then he is obligated to believe it, and to say it.

The difference between what the Gedolim have said about Lubavitch and what Lubavitch has said in their defense is that whereas Rav Shach and the other Tzadikim used Torah sources for their positions attacking the philosophy of today's Lunbavitcher Chasidim, accusing it of being against the Torah, Lubavitch in defense has responded by personal attacks and fabrications against those who disagree with them, and ignoring the claims that were made against them. Such propaganda includes the story that Rav Shach's Tefilin were found posul, or that he is a misnagid and doesn't like chasdim in general or that he has some kind of personal vendetta against Lubavitch (though nobody has the foggiest idea what it could be). There have always been disagreements regarding who is a Tzadik and who is not, but what separates what this from the other disagreements, is that rather than respond that these great Gedolim who oppose them are mistaken on theological grounds, and show it, they instead resort to making up stories about their opponents. Honestly, if the only response these people have to the Torah charges being leveled against them are these made up stories, then how can anyone intellectually honest take them seriously?

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Nobody was ever beaten or terrorized for learning Tanya. Never happened. Except maybe by the Russian government, or something like that.

There was an incident that occurred in Flatbush a number of years ago, where a Lubavticher Chosid was trying to take a certain kid from a Satmar family and teach him that his parents and all the Tzadikim they followed were wrong and that the Lubavticher rebbe is the Moshiach and he has no choice but to be a Lubavitcher. After numerous attempts by the parents to get this guy to leave their kid alone, and numerous pleadings and beggings for him to go be mekarev someone who's not frum, but leave this kid alone, and numerous warnings to the Lubavitcher to stop bothering their child with such nonsense, the Lubavitcher Chosid did not stop, the parents got a bunch of guys to finally shave off the Lubavitcher Chosid's beard. Well, although I do not condone violence against anyone, what instigated it was NOT teaching Tanya but trying to teach a kid that he must follow the Lubavitcher rebbe or else.

I remember when this incident happened, and I also remember that there were Lubavitchers running around saying that it was because Satmar is against the Tanya etc. Again - I do not agree with violence, but nobody ever, ever, had any problem with Tanya. That was a lie that was told in order to make the Lubavitcher look like he did nothing wrong there.

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